The NT’s Presuppositions about the OT (Beale)

Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation - Beale, G. K. 9780801038969

This is a detailed and meticulous manual on how to exegete and interpret NT texts that refer in some way to OT texts/themes/stories: Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament by G. K. Beale. It’s not the easiest or most exciting book out there, but it is full of very helpful information. For example, in chapter five Beale writes about the “Hermeneutical and Theological Presuppositions of the New Testament Writers.” He gives five presuppositions of the NT writers, including that the age of eschatological fulfillment has come in Christ. Beale also notes that later parts of biblical history “function as the broader context for interpreting earlier parts because they all have the same, ultimate divine author who inspires the various human authors.”

…The NT writers’ selection of OT texts was not random or capricious or out of line with the original OT meaning but determined by this wider, overriding perspective, which views redemptive history as unified by an omnipotent and wise design. Throughout this design are expressed the unchanging principles of faith in God, God’s faithfulness in fulfilling promises, the rebellion of the unbelieving, God’s judgment of them, and his glory.

Therefore the NT authors had an emphatic concern for more overarching historical and canonical patterns for significant persons (e.g. prophets, priest, and kings), institutions, and events that were essential constituents of such patterns. Such an emphasis was to a significant extent facilitated by the belief that Christ and the church now represent true Israel so that it was attractive to see various segments and patterns of Israel’s history from the OT as recapitulated in Christ and the church in the NT. This then was a holistic perspective guiding the writers away from concentrating on exegetically or theologically insignificant minutiae in passages and directing them to quote individual references as signposts to the broader redemptive-historical theme(s), from the immediate and larger OT context of which they were a part.

G. K. Beale, Handbook on the NT use of the OT, chapter 5.

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015

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